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Immigration Stories Education. (2013)

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  CSPAN    Book TV    Immigration Stories  
    Education.  (2013)  

    February 10, 2013
    4:00 - 5:00pm EST  

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>> for the next hour, we bring you stories a few immigrants who have shared their experiences on both tv. we start with ishmael bayh who talks about his life as a child soldier in sierra leone and his experiences as an immigrant and united states. >> on my way to the united states i want to mention briefly about immigration is when i began, perhaps the first time in my life i began to question whether my own humanity was worthy as other people who lived in the western europe. i had never questioned that before in my life. this came about because of how to process integrating with absolute difficult to the point
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they dehumanize the person who is seeking emigration. when i went to get a visa, i was asked to produce two things. one of them was a bank statement that showed i had come in second was the documentation that showed i had ownership of property in sierra leone. door had been going on in my country for over nine years at this point, eat, nine years. i try to explain to this interview fellow interviewing me behind me were how much i too explain to him, i'm coming from a place that has a civil war. i don't have any of these things. i grew up in a small community where brenda's is your grandfather's land. he didn't have papers to prove that. so i try to think this gentleman and he could not understand what i was saying.
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his idea i didn't write the things he could not trust me, that i intended to return to my own country and he did not want to understand the fact that if he didn't give in to see that and i returned i could be killed. he was not interested in these things at all. so i try to joke with him to explain say let's say for instance you had to pick out what i don't have a documentation and your time was attacked, you're not thinking i must really take my bank statement and that ownership of properties that can give it to the sky at the american embassy. you're not thinking any of these things at all. you're thinking tonight about next minute. what i live to see the next minute. so when i is having this discussion is really when the idea to write about where i was coming from was born at this point. he was out of frustration i want to give context to my own life, to my humanity to explain to you
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for what my life had been before, but also that sometimes the standards we put in place to trust people, to trust in their own humanity may not be the same standard people happier, but that is named are they're not human beings either. so this is some other stuff i i began to encounter. when i arrived in the united states, the problem is education. i arrived i get a fast for my mother took me to apply for schools, wurster report card? most schools do not accept it because i did not have a report card. are sure to explain i was in war again. it was a thinking report card. i went a bit year at some point in my life. so there's a lot of exclusions with an immigrant coming. as a young boy growing up through the peace corps, i read
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the history of this nation is a place full of diversity, and people who had come from different parts of the world because the similar persecution center matter now, but yet when you arrive at jfk or wherever company you're put under this questioning, we are asked -- are criminalized before you even speak to immigration. so you don't want to tell them anything about yourself any longer. so i have lived there for a number years and i'll wrap it up. so every time a child live on an experiment. i'm still a permanent resident. i pay my taxes and around tax time i get very upset when i'm being questioned in a very inhumane way. so if i use many drivers license, i'm okay.
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when i pop a sierra leone passport, all of a sudden big problem. i'm the same guy, same people at the same area. it's almost like there's no human interaction at all. and if you try valid information from people for security reasons, you can actually get more than if you're inhumane to them. so it's always quite fascinating to see what the reaction is. every time i enter, i came back from geneva that every time i come back ims questions, but i find the questions incredibly funny. one of them was that i just arrived in the guy asked me, so where were you? is a geneva. he said how long? at the two, days. why reengineered a short time? i only had a few days to do my work. why? i don't know, this is how it was. while you're traveling with a small but?
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because i was gone for two, three days. but through my backpack and when you travel so many places? because of my work. eventually i say is that there were 10 years, it was like where? would be done in the questions go on and on to the point that i was asked what i make annually. i said why is that relevant, but all these questions are asked to nisei why am i being criminalized before people get a chance to know me. >> now you're from book hauser purchased in its international school in new york city were none of the students are native english speakers. ms. houser tells the story of a student who escaped nepal and attended the international high school. >> so many advocates have amazing stories and the one i wanted to read is about a tibetan boy who left tibet as a
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little boy, escaped by hiding in a suitcase to travel to the border of nepal and so he and i worked pretty hard on his story to get all the facts straight. the man said motioning at a small suitcase on the ground. it was the fall of 2003, two years before a new one would arrive in international and they're standing on a street. he looked at the man in back of the suitcase. the man was his father's friend, a farmer with a faith filled with worry. black nylon the plastic handlebar, rubber wheels. noong had never touched a suitcase before and inspected it closely. there was chinese flattering on it he could not read. the main compartment was only about two by three feet, the size of a child's coffin. noong was small for 11, but he
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wasn't that small. he got the firmware must be joking. the black suitcase at soon be one of many bags stacked in the backseat of a peanut silver toyota is supposed to deliver noong to the border of nepal, for her sake of which are neat that would end and saw what indiana. noong could make it if you tired these days, older tibetans who had paid to drive before the capital city stretched out in the summer. he was about to join the others on the farmer motion began towards the suitcase. getting he said unzipping the top. noong's jet blankly at the man the suitcase. hurry the farmer said before the police come and take us to jail. how long noong whispered? one night and one day. that was how long it would take to travel from the capital to the border, assuming they didn't get caught. the distance was much shorter, but the driver would be circumventing several chinese checkpoints along the way.
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they didn't have much time except for the current operation rising from the valley. soon the sun would rise, shining a spotlight and anyone who dared to sleep. noong got in. he imagined himself back in his grandma straight bed where he said his older brother and little cousins of a few weeks before. inside the cpc crunched his knees to his chest and rock to the side. for a brief moment he saw the farmers face like a field under a cloud. then there was a zipping sound and everything went black. nine hours into the journey, noong comedy. the bitter brugman cinching his turn in clinging to the fibers of his camouflage pants. 13 hours and he, a gush of warm liquid diets like, clendenin
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sneakers. the upside down dark his tears flowed unchartered direction. when the suitcase closed, noong felt scared by strong. he wore the scarf his grandmother placed around his neck as a parting gift. clasping hands between his knees, he whispered a buddhist prayer. those are the last words he spoke. he was afraid to make a sound as though she heard tales about tibetans who are cotton and police. friends told noong about prisoners who didn't shot at checked into strange torture techniques like digging in bamboo sticks in the imagine police hammering the sharp in the senior nails. even a noong wanted to scream, no one would hear him. he couldn't hear anyone either. within seconds of the zippers zipping his last control of the census. he couldn't see, the small gasoline leaking from the car engine. half of his body went cold, the
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house closest to the icy ground. he tried moving a siren like us other side the time he was trapped. something had fallen on him but he wasn't sure why. it sounded like a dead body thrown into a grave, but then noong relates to is the sound of suitcases stacking. in out, in now, breathing had become an impossible task was hard to believe it had ever been automatic at the more he thought the more he panicked gasping for air. he a term pushing against suitcases piled on top of his own. his left arm is frozen against the cold car floor. he felt every bump in every rock on the road. he heard the engine sputtered to a halt at what must've been the police check point and clenched his fists until it started again, thundering in his ear. he summoned it will be on his own island. the cheney soldiers who credit the street would be far behind
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them. sometimes it's faster to scream other. his mother had died three days after he was born. while she was the one who noong a thick glass bottle filled with milk from a yacht. the village women weren't able to breast-feed. the day they left, the village in eastern tibet, mushy cooked date millet dumplings and better to you. the last taste of home before noong his brother mounted horses and headed west. the blackness of the suitcase, noong could tear in the tall grass waving goodbye. the dalai lama fled in 1959, tens of thousands of tibetans had followed his path to india. noong had heard about the men and women who cross the himalayas, died of starvation or getting trapped in the ice. are you as his father had
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planted some escaped and he was the first of noong family to flee, arriving in america into the three. a few months later he sent for his two sons. noong headpieces whenever they came back the nearest district. noong on their fathers from that ride that horse or they would word it busted a county and get on a truck headed for the capitol. after getting their bearings come and they are supposed join up with a paid guide to make a trek across the mountains to the border of nepal. if they admit that fire, a nepali man would greet them. for 2500 yen per boy, he opposes the grandfather and be waiting with a piece of cloth and a car. the car we transferred the brothers to a tibetan refugee center. it was for and along to paint their faces a shade darker so they would look like more nepali
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children. tibetan children are no were unusually red cheeks, the extra wet soil resulting from high-altitude menlo oxygen of the plateau. platts or read the cheney sometime called it. the first part of their journey had gone as planned but a crucial part changed. you can't see an oracle that day. the noong had never met one that new they were wise men who traveled the train to physical and divine world in to see into the future. the farmer passed on the message should live through a check they could span thousands of miles several weeks. he wouldn't survive a trip. it is better to come in the car the farmer explained. subset of others to talk about how tiny he was that he was born. not much larger cluster name
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fields. despite its small size the lawn is in the village had given him a big name. loosely translated advance voice of power never stuck. 70 miles west, his english teacher, and perry said that it glass-steagall initiate of her backyard and reads the paragraph before her. the suitcase closed and i went blind. my body was squeezing under many suitcases and i could barely read. after hours and hours, squeezing under suitcases, i felt depressed and hot. i just wanted to escape, but many suitcases are stacked on me. i was sweating. i wanted to scream, but a new would be worse. they could go after my sweet grandma and hurt her because she was sending me to freedom.
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i knew i would never see my single that. i would never achieve up my moms hope that my grandma so, so i made my handsets can be strongly. it is 7:00 a.m. sunday october curser enabling page. and fearless inside you coffee is very lukewarm. in between sips from her favorite mug, she stares at the purple morning glories creeping up her chain-link fence in the college essay. a suitcase? he's lucky to have survived. but can in hand, she tries to imagine an 11-year-old noong called up in the darkness, his fist clenched. surely he understands things she does and about life or jesse? designing this brief. he's in a suitcase and anything india. he never learns what happens next to noong at a nepali man at
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the border, such person had to kathmandu. while checking to the hauling a, was arrested and jailed by police. in 2005, they join their father or they were granted political asylum. >> rina grandes next issue detail associate degree from mexico at the age of nine and the experiences she had when she was in the united states. >> i was born in a small city in the state of guerrero. it's about three hours away from acapulco. it's an land and if you're driving from mexico city, you have to pass by. >> how big is it?
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>> is very small and as for now it has over 100,000 people there. so to me it felt more like a small town. it was very rural. there were dirt roads, no running water. it treacy was very unstable. so that's where he grew up in the outskirts, very close to the mountains. in the senate values rather than not, which are very, very beautiful and very meaningful to me because when my parents came to the u.s. in the u.s. to us recall that the other side and as a child i also thought [speaking in spanish] was the other side of the map. so i thought that's where the u.s. west, on the other side of this nonsense. >> host: when did you come to the u.s. and why? >> guest: i came to the u.s. when i was nine and a half years old back in 1985 and the reason
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why i.t. was because my parents were already here. my father left when i was too, my mother came anonymous one and a half and my father came back to mexico. he thought we weren't taking care of by the relatives we are left with and decided to release her because he changed his mind about coming back to mexico and decided we should join him here in the u.s. >> host: how did you get to the other side? >> guest: i had to run a lot. we had to cross the border illegally through tijuana. also the first two times we got caught by border patrol, my father was hesitant to bring me at first because i was nine and half of the time many thought it was too little for the journey. we did get caught the first two times i felt immensely guilty because i thought it was my
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fault. my father was right in that i was very small, i get tired and hungry and he has to carry me on his back for the part of our journey. so the third time he told us it was going to be our last time and if we didn't make it he was going to send us back to his relatives in mexico. the third time is different because we tried it at night and it was very scary to be of the middle of nowhere, pitch black. we couldn't see where we were going. we kept falling, tripping on rocks. on the mac came a point when a helicopter came by with the searchlight and i was afraid of being seen and been caught and ultimately been sent back to mexico, but also been sent away from my father and a chance of having a family. >> host: so you got into the u.s., guide to the other side. where did you get to?
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where did you live? how did you grow up in a u.s.? >> guest: my father lived in a plain joyous and yet gotten a good job as a maintenance worker, so we can deliver 10 and my stepmother and los angeles as a community called highland park in northeast l.a. and is predominantly latino, but there is still a lot of culture shock in the sense that even though a lot of the kids in my class looked just like me because they were the team to. they had like hair, brown eyes, brown skin and have last names that i was familiar with. they all spoke english, which was a language that i couldn't speak. and that's when i realized that sometimes there is a difference between being a child of the democrat and been a child emigrants and that's what i was.
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i was a child emigrants who didn't speak a word of english when she came to the u.s. >> host: did you feel illegal, undocumented growing up in the u.s. when you were nine years old? >> guest: i think because i was young enough i was still naïve in terms of our situation. i didn't understand its full complexity, you know. and i came here at a young age, but it definitely did feel different. many times i felt different because first i had this language barrier had to overcome in a thick rope i released my experiences were very different from a lot of people, especially coming from another country, having lived through poverty, through abandonment separation from a parent. it changed me in many ways that may be so different from other people. it was something i had to
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struggle with. my father, whenever we went off to school comments that it's insane have a good day at school, he would say you better not tell anyone how you got to this country or you can kiss it goodbye. so is this constant fear of going to school and be afraid of saying anything because i might say something that might give us the way. so i would go to school with fear and very unwilling to participate in my class are having a lot of conversations with people because i always thought, what if i say some thing that might lead to my home and i'm done taking us away. so i did have that fear as i growing up of being deported. >> host: what was your path to citizenship? when did you come out from the shadows as it were? >> guest: they came here at a
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very lucky time because i came in 1885 and a year later, president reagan passed amnesty for which allows about 3 million people to become legal residents and my father and my mother were beneficiaries of the mst, so that's how they got her green card. % from 85 to 1990 undocumented, but we got her green card right when i was finishing junior high, ninth grade. my older sister was about to graduate from high school. so undocumented status for something she was really worried about because she was about to graduate from high school and she was on her options in terms of college come in terms opportunity, scholarship, things like that issue might not qualify for because of status.
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in june, green cards arrived in the mail and that was the most wonderful thing that ever happened. finally we could read with relief. finally we could see a lot of doors open to eyes and i could finally start being a brighter future and be able to step out of the shadows and finally say, yes, i think i will now feel to go to college and pursue my dreams and that's what they did. as soon as i got the green card can i take it and ran with it. >> host: was a physical release and did a few of the view in many ways? >> guest: it did and it really hope the family because it took so much pressure off my dad. we no longer got the warning. he no longer had to say don't tell anybody how you got here. we could finally go to school and relax and know that we were going to get deported, that we
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were going to be separated as a family. and also my father, you know, working as undocumented immigrants had very limited opportunity and he also pursued his own drains and with a maintenance worker from when he got his green card, he eventually made it to the top of the latter review is actually the manager who is overseeing the other maintenance workers. such a heaven, that was his dream of getting a spare. >> we show you portions about immigration as a current policy debate in washington. next, a new chef in surrey describes her journey from amit grant to astronaut. >> i was born in a city called the shot and arianne anonymous about four or five years old
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when i moved to tehran, a capital city. lived there for a while until the revolution was the first thing that changed my life and i was going to a french catholic school. i'm not a catholic, but it is going to a french cat at school and because of the revolution, the school was closed after the first year it away or moved to different schools of my friends were spread all over. life for women overall change. being a teenager during the revolution and later on the war in iran teaches you a lot of things. i remember the first time i heard the word revolution. i didn't really know what i am. i had heard it, but i didn't have any concept of what it meant. same thing with gunfire. i've never heard gunfire. i was never around guns. so a lot of things for a learning experience for a teenager growing up and later on
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us as getting ready for graduation, my parents decided maybe it would be a good age yet to come to the united states and start life over. many iranians, some of whom are here probably went through the same decision and decide it probably is better to give up everything they have, leave everything behind and start a new life in a new country that will give them a chance and especially their children a chance to have a better life and that's what we did. the story talks about me going to school, becoming inch engineered, meeting my husband, which is a big heart of my life and a big part of the book as she read it. ..
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i had to overcome not having been here just after a lot of the turmoil in and run -- in iran and the relationships were not that good, and starting arrive over in a country without a lot of money. my mom told me, i recommend you study something that will actually land you a job after school. and nice iranian girls always
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listen to their moms. so i did listen to my mom, and decided to go to an engineering school, which was something i really enjoyed, and that is what led me to have the career and then starting the company later on. throughout this whole thing that happened to me, probably most people would have given up on the idea of going to space because they would figure, well, my life has taken a different turn, and it has nothing to do with space now. so, it's probably a dream that -- a childhood dream and they would forget about it. but i felt that somehow would find a way to eventually be able to fulfill that dream, even though i was on a detour, i looked at it as a detour, and i figure maybe my company will come up with this amazing invention. maybe i can do something that
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will cause nasa to want to put me on a shuttle to go to space. so i always felt i would find a way, and i didn't know how but i would find a way to go to space. and i think that's a very important part of someone being able to achieve a dream or a passion they have, and that is part of the reason when i talk to students, i want that message to come across nice and strange. later on, i -- my passion for space became a sort of source of inspiration and motivation for me to grow my company. i was never motivated by money. we had a nice company, was doing great. but the reason i wanted to grow it was after i saw dennis, who was the first person -- first private citizen who was able to
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negotiate a deal to go to the international space station under the soyuz program, and i saw that on cnn, and i figure that would be the way. if i can just find the money somehow, then i would be able to go to space. and it became an inspiration for me to build my company, and opposite i was able to do that, i looked at other possibilities, and i wanted to see if there is a way we can make this happen for everyone. i knew there will be probably million of other young girls who share this dream with me. and we looked at different options, and one was the export company which had just been formed, and i met with the founder, and he is my hero, actually, and he told me about his vision of the prize to inspire entrepreneurs to
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actually build space ships that would go to space. not government agencies but people in their garages. i thought that would be a really cool idea. you get entrepreneurs building spaceships and prove the government agencies they can do it better, cheaper, faster, and that's when entrepreneurship is about. that's how we became title sponsors of the prize, a $10 million prize for private companies to build spaceships and go to space, and in 2004 an american aero space legendary engineer,' bruttan, won the prize, and his space ship one, which won the x prize in the air and space museum right above i apollo 11, so everytime i go there i'm very proud to say, i had something to do with that. and because he won the prize, the paradigm shift happened and
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through my involvement with x5, i detoured back into hi path to my flight to space, and ended up in russia, training as a backup, and when i was there, i had no idea that i would get a chance tofully to space. i was just given an opportunity to go and train. and a lot of people may have said, well, why should i spend six months in the cold winter of moscow, and just go there for no apparent reason. and to me it was an opportunity to go spend time if with the astronauts and go to the same places the first person who went to space resided, and that whole history of the russian space program compelled me to go there. and being there gave me that opportunity to be at the right place at the right time.
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unfortunately for the primary crew member, northwestern who was suppose -- the person who was supposed to fliful he developed kidney stone which disqualified him from the flight. but fortunately for me, i was there to say, i'll take his seat! and that what i did. and this is another point i usually -- when i talk to students, which i do quite often, i try to tell them that if you have a passion, if there's something you want to do even if you're very far from it, you have to have that in your mind. you have to have it in the forefront of your mind and make sure you look for those opportunities as they come along. so you never know when they'll come along, and if you're not thinking about it, if you're not ready, you may not notice them and you will let them go and later on you will realize what happened and you will regret it. and i think it was true for me. i was there.
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i was ready, and i spend -- spent the six months training as if i was going to space. i didn't waste it just walking around and having a good time and snapping pictures. i was there to learn. i was spending six months, and i wanted to get something out of it. even if it wasn't going to space. and it paid off. a lot of the details of the training was interesting, my qualifications for the program are detailed in the book, and you can read that in all the flower glorious delay. >> at five years old lila immigranted with her family from argentina. she talk about her experienced in alabama next. >> it's a coming of age story, primarily about my family's immigration to the united states in 1961.
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i was five years old, and we settled in alabama, right in the heart of some of the most dramatic events that occurred in the civil rights movement. and one of those occurred in my home town of marion, alabama. pretty traumatic. >> oo where do you live now? >> guest: i live in tuscaloosa, alabama, which is 60 miles 'the road but almost in another -- more recent century than my small home town. >> host: dark room is a lot about the civil rights movement and the experiences you had. i want to start with your father. what did he do for a living and what was his experience like? >> guest: my father was a teacher. he had a background also in the ministry, but he was an amateur photographer. he did some free lance work, and that figured centrally in my book, darkroom. >> host: i want to ask about his ministering. he had been assigned to
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churches, and you write about that in here. what was his experience? >> guest: well, this was actually my family's first immigration period before i was born so in 1948 my father came to the u.s. and studied at a seminary in new orleans, and he went join -- went around and did some speaking where he encountered institutionalized segregation even in the church. >> host: at one point he spoke in a black church and invite the choi to the white her. >> guest: the white church was not happy with that at all, and he not only was the choir ejected and my father and his friend, who was a seminary student, and also the pastor of the little church, the white church, he was fired. my father's friend. >> host: your father at some point dropped out of the ministry, correct? >> guest: yes, he did,
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eventually. >> host: why? because of his experience in alabama? >> guest: not necessarily. the family went back to argentina. this is during the '50s and i was born during that time, and he was a pastor there for a period of time and then decided to come back to the u.s., and the opportunity to teach kind of took precedence over his ministry. >> host: when you visit argentina today, are you an argentinian or an american? >> guest: nowow, it's a funny thing. down there i do feel somewhat like a foreigner. i don't speak spanish excellently, fluently, and not with an argentinian accent, but i love it. the culture is mine. but i feel more american down there and here i feel maybe more -- especially in alabama i don't feel as american as i do elsewhere. >> host: why is that? >> guest: alabama is a very conservative state, and it's
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also not diverse. we still have the setup from many decades back when the rest of the country, or i should say, the east coast, the west coast, other parts of the country, were receiving a lot of immigrants, alabama did not have the influx of immigration that other places did. so we are still basically a black and white society with just a few hispanics sprinkled in. >> host: in fact, in darkroom, lila, you mex that you weren't necessarily discriminated against as a child, or your family wasn't, because they didn't have any terms for latinos. >> guest: that's right. we were just odd balls. objects of curiosity, and now there are more hispanics in the region, and unfortunately there's more xenophobeia.
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bam has one of the harshest immigration laws in the united states. very similar to arizona. >> the final immigration story comes from carlos ier, who describes his experience as an immigrant from cuba who left the country without his parents in 1962 as part of operation peter pan, and speaks to the emotional challenges associated with leaving your native country and starting over in the united states. >> i am one of 14,000 and 68 cuban children who were airlifted to the u.s. without their parents between 1960 and 1962. we're all stuck with the name operation pedro pan for the airlift. a really stupid name i hate.
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in cuba, nobody called disney's film, peter pan, no one called it pedro pan. it was peter pan. but an american journalist came up with the name and we stuck with it. i'd like to read to you an exempt of one -- an excerpt of one of my first experiences at school. teach me how to swear in spanish. i can't add up how many times i've had this request already. everyone wants to learn all the bad words in spanish. even the girls. this puts me in a tight spot. for uttering bad words is against the first madment -- commandment, and an entry ticket to hell so if i teach bad words to someone, i'm hurting my eternal fate and also theirs and that makes my sin doubly worse. and if i say nothing they'll
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just keep pestering me. i tried that. and now that silence won't work. plus, if i refuse, i'll be totally uncool, worse than a nerd. what's a boy to do? toss them a bone, maybe. palata. i say. >> what's that? that the spanish word for sex, the really dirty word with the f. give me more. okay, how about this. >> what's that? it means others version of the big bad f-word. thanks, charless. this is great. i don't tell hem what i utaught him to say is the word for the vegetable beet, and kick my buttocks. quandary. how to fit in. it's true.
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first thing anyone ever asked me, here in miami where i lived for a year and a half, teach me how to swear in spanish. when i moved to the midwest in central illinois issue it was the same thing when people found out i was not from here, teach me how to swear in your language. kid have this interest. bad words. but the book is really about adjusting to a new place. it's not just because this is my life story and i was a child who came here on my own. the book is really about the immigrant experience. every immigrant has to go through the process of dying to their former self, and becoming a new self, hence the title, learning to die in miami." which the aarp took a very strong interest in because of the title.
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[laughter] >> i hope they're not disappointed in the content now they they've found what it's really about. it's about learning to shed your former self and learning to become a whole other self. for us who came without our parents, it was an immediate emergence, not just in another culture but another entirely different set of circumstances and it required very special kind of adapting to dying because many of us were shuffled from one foster home to another or an orphanage or different places. many of us actually end up being in more than two places before our parents reunited with us, if they ever got to reunite with us. in my case my father never left cuba, and i never got to see him again. it took our mom -- i left with my brother, the two of us left together. the minute we landed here at the miami airport we were separated.
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he went to one camp and i went to a different camp, the camps were processinger ins that sent us elsewhere because miami couldn't take us in. we ended up being sent to 40 different states, invisible, under the radar, i best most of you may not have been aware of the fact this was going on, even if you lived in miami. but learning to die is something kid does very easily. prominent psychologist explained to me once we're all exiles, we're all exiled from childhood. once we leave childhood behind and we start a new life, it's almost like that. you can't go back. you never can go home again in that sense. you can't go back to your childhood. so this book has themes i think transsend the immigrant experience and it's a particular
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slice of history about the airlift and what two kids went through, which i think fairly representative of what all 14,000 of us went through. our parents put us on commercial flights and sent us here because they were desperate. they were desperate because their children were already being taken away from them. in many different ways. the so-called preeducation in cuba is not really free. all children have to perform agricultural labor in the summer to pay their debt to the revolution, basically pay for their education, and there's no pay involved in this labor. it's slave labor. the kids were being sent to camps in the countryside. the parents had no say in where the kids went or what happened at these camps. so, parents panicked. and there was just -- it's a
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long and complicated story, but a school headmaster in havana, james baker, who had connections with the u.s. state department, and he managed to get the state department to give him and a group of people in havana cart blanc to draw up visa waivers that would allow kids to leave two or the or four months after they i played. parents required a much longer time. so parents just wanted to get the the kids out first, and the plan was to reunite with them. in just a matter of a few more months. but it didn't turn out that way because a little fallout from the missile crisis in october of 1962 that nobody noticed is that when khrushchev took castro's toys away he got very angry at his open people and closed the door and the parents of most of us were trapped and couldn't leave. for most of us it took the
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parents anywhere from three to six years or longer to finally make it to the u.s. and what would drive any parent to do this? i'm asked over and over again. if you were in your parents' situation, would you do the same? my answer is always the same: yes, most definitely. and there's not a day i don't wake up and thank my parents and thank god for that flight that rescued me from a life of slavery. because most americans actually are very fortunate in this country, never experienced a totalitarian regime. for most americans freedom is an abstraction. but it's not. for those deprive of freedom and whose human rights were trampled, freedom becomes more important than the food you eat or the air you breathe. and our parents were willing to make that sacrifice of perhaps
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never seeing us again, just so we could be free. something that i talk about this all the time and i know my audiences generally have a hard time understanding, but believe me, not one of the parents put the kids on the plane, did it knowing that they would see their kids again. there was that chance at the back of everyone's mine, may not ever see them again. so, imagine that sacrifice. here at this en, things were run very well but it was well-organized chaos. basically no one knew from one planeload to the next how many children would be showing up. so the camps here in florida were processing centers for sending us elsewhere. we ended up in all sorts of placeses, interesting places. i was taken in by a wonderful american jewish family here in
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miami for a while, the tates, and then we end up in a group home run bay cuban couple about three blocks from the orange bowl, which was -- well, back in those days, the kids who were in that home were called juvenile delinquents. they'd already -- their families had fall 'apart. all cuban kids. they had got spoon trouble in all sorts of ways. but in the en, we ended up with an uncle in central illinois, and, boy, talk about another adjustment. this the adjustment most of us had to make, especially if we were sent away from miami and ended up in towns where, as in my case in seventh grade, only one other child had been born outside the u.s. and he was from germany. what name do you go by? that an interesting question.
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what name -- what identity does that give you? i committed name-a-cide many times. i committed self-a-ci many time in simply going by different names. for instance, here in miami with my first faster phenomenally i was charles. went back to group holm, i was carlos. guy to central imi'm charl beginning and then within three weeks i'm charlie, and then within four weeks i'm chuck. so, as soon as i got back with my mom in chicago, i became carlos again. and i'm still carlos. but it's a question of identity, and of becoming a different person in a different place and adjusting. someone asked me a wonderful question just two days ago in
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philadelphia. when did you first feel like an american? and i've never thought about it but the answer came instantly. i first felt like a real american in bloomington, illinois. never here in miami where i was only one of hundreds of thousands of cubans. in bloomington, illinois, the bane of my existence and of every cuban male, everybody expects to us be good at baseball. so i was always the first one picked for softball games and i was always a strikeout king. i was terrible at baseball. i'm also supposed to be a good dancer, and i stink at dancing. but i struck out, and this one kid comes up to me, spits in my face, calls me a spic. you struck out. all the other kids in the class jumped on him and started
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beating him up. and one of them came up to me and said, don't listen to him. he's an idiot. and to me that is the united states. and anyone who wants to become american, that's the beauty of american culture, is that we all come from somewhere else and even if we're native americans, we have to adjust for the larger culture. and anyone who wants to become an american can become an american and will be accepted as an american, whether you change your name or not. and that's the beauty of it. >> that concludes our collection of immigration stories. >> we're here with mike doyle, kepler's book store was openin' 1955. who was roy kepler? >> guest: roy kepler was probably the most inflew enshall
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peace hackist of his renegation, conscientious objector in world war ii, he helped found the first listener sponsor evidence radio station in the country. he helped lead the war resistors league in the 1950s. helped found the first big free university in the 1960s, helped lead the vietnam war protests of the 1960s, and was running a book store that was the most influential on the west coast. so radical chapters talks about his life and through his life talking about the times he lived in. >> host: talk about a paperback revolution. what does that mean? >> guest: the 1950s paperback books were frowned upon. they were tawdry, pornographic. tip identified by mickey spill lane and his rock 'em sock 'em sex stuff detective book. the paperback revolution was the explosion, like the internet explosion of the '90s, of ideas into cheap, affordable
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formats. the paper back book. until the 1950s, a true book was hard cover book, with roy kepler and lawrence and other influence enshall paperback booksellers, suddenly ideas were selling for cheap to a mass audience. >> host: booktv may recognize the name of the owner of city lights book store in san francisco. what was kepler's like back then? >> guest: it was a a carnival of ideas. a place that people would good to buy books. a place people would go to be inspired. robert stone, the prize-winning american writer, told me, kepler's was a great book store and a great place to pick up chicks. so it was a place for people to find all kinds of entertainment, rock 'n' roll tickets, applause you go to organize a peace demonstration, place you would go to high out from your parents. when jerry garcia,.
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founder of the grateful dead, was meet meeting his girlfriends, they would meet with keplers when the parent office the girlfriends would have no idea what was going on. so it was a place where almost anything could happen on a day-to-day basis. >> host: how did you become interested in mr. kepler's life? >> guest: i went to the book store, and when i later worked for a newspapers n palo alto, california, write stories about the roy kepler and the university people and the hippies and peace movement, all of whom seemed to circle around to one degree or another kepler's books. so i grew up buying books from them, and then transitioned into writing stories about home and it dawned on me there was a book to be written about the totality of his life. >> host: kepler's still exists? >> guest: it does. went out of business in 2005. the community would not allow that to persist. the community raised money, put
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it back in the business. this year, mark kepler, roy's son, again was going to put the company out of business, and once again the company -- the community raised 700 then. -- $700,000. the book store was sold to new owners and it's been in business and thriving as we peek. >> host: where in san francisco is kepler's. >> guest: in a si citicalled menlo park, 30 minutes south of san francisco, across the street from stanford university. >> host: i'm speaking with michael doyle, author of radical chapters. thanks a lot. >> my pleasure. ...

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